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Sustainability, Volume 16, Issue 1 (January-1 2024) – 469 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This paper explores building-integrated greenery (BIG) systems, including green roofs and facades, as eco-beneficial solutions. Despite benefits, adoption is slowed by high costs and economic barriers. A key challenge is the lack of standardized metrics to measure BIG's city-level impact, which is crucial for investors and policymakers. The paper addresses this by introducing comprehensive indicators from frameworks like CICES and the NBS impact evaluation handbook. These indicators contribute to establishing a 'sustainability factor' for the cost-benefit analysis of BIG projects using local data. A case study on a 3500 m2 green roof in Lleida, Spain, demonstrates that its benefits in urban horticulture, CO2 capture, and recreational areas significantly outweigh the costs, offering key insights for policy and investment decisions. View this paper
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18 pages, 1178 KiB  
Article
An Evaluation and Difference Analysis of the High-Quality Development of China’s Marine Economy
by Dongqing Han and Zhengxu Cao
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010469 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 2405
Abstract
The marine economy is a vital component of boosting the high-quality development of the Chinese economy. According to the concept of high-quality development, we construct the evaluation indicator system to measure the level of high-quality development of the marine economy by means of [...] Read more.
The marine economy is a vital component of boosting the high-quality development of the Chinese economy. According to the concept of high-quality development, we construct the evaluation indicator system to measure the level of high-quality development of the marine economy by means of the combined empowerment method. We explore the coupling coordination relationship and evolution trend with the coupling coordination degree model, and finally, we analyze the regional differences using the Dagum Gini coefficient. The results show that, (1) from the perspective of time, China’s marine economic high-quality development index has been steadily improving, but there is still great potential for progress. From the perspective of spatial characteristics, the eastern marine economic circle has the best level of high-quality economic development. (2) From 2012 to 2022, the coupling coordination degree of high-quality development of the marine economy experienced five stages, from the verge of disorder to finally stepping into the good coupling coordination stage. (3) The overall difference in the marine economy is gradually narrowing. Among the three major marine economic circles, the southern marine economic circle has the largest internal discrepancy, which has become an important factor affecting the high-quality development of the marine economy. The above research results helped relevant decision-making departments to deeply understand the status quo and outstanding contradictions of the high-quality development of the marine economy in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
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26 pages, 10446 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Agricultural Carbon Emissions and Carbon Sinks in the Yellow River Basin Based on LMDI and Tapio Decoupling Models
by Luhao Jia, Mingya Wang, Shili Yang, Fan Zhang, Yidong Wang, Penghao Li, Wanqi Ma, Shaobo Sui, Tong Liu and Mingshi Wang
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010468 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1638
Abstract
In addition to creating economic value, crops also serve important ecological functions. Especially their carbon sink function, which plays a key role in mitigating climate change. In this study, the LMDI and the Tapio model were innovatively combined to quantitatively evaluate the carbon [...] Read more.
In addition to creating economic value, crops also serve important ecological functions. Especially their carbon sink function, which plays a key role in mitigating climate change. In this study, the LMDI and the Tapio model were innovatively combined to quantitatively evaluate the carbon emissions and sinks in the Yellow River basin (YRB). It shows that the average annual growth rate of the YRB was −0.1344% during 2002–2020. Carbon emissions show a negative trend due to the transformation and upgrading of agriculture from traditional to modern and the implementation of policies related to China’s agricultural benefits. Agricultural production efficiency is a major factor in inhibiting agricultural carbon emissions, reducing carbon emissions by an average of approximately 8.07 million tons per year. High-carbon emission and high-sink areas in agriculture are mainly concentrated in the southeast of the YRB, where livestock and poultry farming is the principal source of carbon emissions, with rice, wheat, and corn being the principal contributors to the carbon sink. Moreover, there are significant differences in the carbon sink capacity of crops in the YRB. Optimizing crop selection and area distribution can enhance the carbon sink capacity in different regions, contributing to more effective carbon emission control. This study combines agricultural carbon emissions with the carbon sequestration capacity of crops, providing data support and a theoretical basis for the policy formulation and planning of low-carbon agriculture in China. It is of great significance for promoting sustainable agricultural development and mitigating climate change. Full article
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26 pages, 5539 KiB  
Article
Stakeholder-Driven Policies and Scenarios of Land System Change and Environmental Impacts: A Case Study of Owyhee County, Idaho, United States
by Li Huang, Daniel Cronan and Andrew (Anaru) Kliskey
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 467; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010467 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
While stakeholder-driven approaches have been increasingly used in scenario modeling, previous studies have mostly focused on the qualitative elements, e.g., narratives and policy documents, from the stakeholders, but lack engagement of stakeholders with quantitative inputs. In this study, we conducted workshops with a [...] Read more.
While stakeholder-driven approaches have been increasingly used in scenario modeling, previous studies have mostly focused on the qualitative elements, e.g., narratives and policy documents, from the stakeholders, but lack engagement of stakeholders with quantitative inputs. In this study, we conducted workshops with a stakeholder group to integrate the participatory mapping of future policies in the simulation, and to compare the environmental impacts after including the participatory mapping. A land system change model named CLUMondo was used to simulate four scenarios, i.e., Business-As-Usual (BAU), Destroying Resources in Owyhee (DRO), Ecological Conservation (EC), and Managed Recreation (MR), in Owyhee County, Idaho, United States. The InVEST models were used to assess water yield, soil erosion, and wildlife habitat under the four scenarios. The results show that the DRO scenario would decrease shrubland and increased grassland, thus leading to less water yield, more soil erosion, and deteriorated wildlife habitat anticipated through to 2050. On the contrary, the EC and MR scenarios reverse the trend and would improve these ecosystem services over the same time horizon. The stakeholder-driven policies appear to influence the spatial distribution of the land system and ecosystem services. The results help to reach a nuanced understanding of the stakeholder-driven scenarios and highlight the importance of engaging stakeholders in scenario modeling and environmental impact analysis. Full article
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27 pages, 1950 KiB  
Article
Does the Energy-Consumption Permit Trading Scheme Improve Carbon Emission Performance? Evidence from a Quasi-Natural Experiment in China
by Qi He and Hongli Jiang
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010466 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1196
Abstract
The Chinese government launched the Energy-Consumption Permit Trading Scheme (ECPT) in 2016 as a pilot policy initiative to achieve energy conservation and emissions reduction goals. To generate a quasi-natural experiment, this study used a difference-in-differences (DID) approach with panel data from 2006 to [...] Read more.
The Chinese government launched the Energy-Consumption Permit Trading Scheme (ECPT) in 2016 as a pilot policy initiative to achieve energy conservation and emissions reduction goals. To generate a quasi-natural experiment, this study used a difference-in-differences (DID) approach with panel data from 2006 to 2020 in China. The goal was to explore the impact of the ECPT policy on the carbon emission performance (CEP) as well as analyze the underlying influence processes. The findings indicate that applying the ECPT has a considerable positive influence on the CEP. In comparison to provinces that did not engage in the pilot program, those that did reported a 4.5% improvement in CEP. We can safely declare that the results remain consistent and trustworthy after undergoing a battery of rigorous tests to assess the robustness of our findings. The mechanism’s evaluation revealed that the ECPT has the potential to improve the CEP, mostly via changing energy consumption patterns and stimulating technological innovation. Furthermore, when we considered heterogeneity, we discovered that factors such as geographical location, the level of green financing development, and the level of environmental regulation may affect the ECPT policy effects. Full article
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17 pages, 1222 KiB  
Article
The Sustainable Production and Well-Being of Employees as a Derivative of the Concept of Sustainable Production
by Przemysław Niewiadomski and Agnieszka Stachowiak
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010465 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1140
Abstract
The main purpose of this work is to indicate the effects of the implementation of the concept of sustainable production from the perspective of the employee’s well-being. The subject of the research was manufacturers operating in the agricultural technical means of transport sector [...] Read more.
The main purpose of this work is to indicate the effects of the implementation of the concept of sustainable production from the perspective of the employee’s well-being. The subject of the research was manufacturers operating in the agricultural technical means of transport sector (production of parts and subassemblies). The research leads to the identification of benefits from the well-being of employees resulting from the implementation of the concept of sustainable production, described in the literature, that should be included in the evaluation model in the analysed sector (research question 1). Moreover, it enables the recognition of benefits resulting from the well-being of employees in the surveyed enterprises (level of fulfilment) and shortcomings highlighted by the companies surveyed in the category of benefits resulting from the well-being of employees (low level of fulfilment). The results of this work are the list of benefits structured into categories and assessed by the representatives of agricultural means of transport manufacturers. The list is useful from both academic and utilitarian perspectives. Full article
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24 pages, 6294 KiB  
Article
Modeling Tetracycline Adsorption onto Blast Furnace Slag Using Statistical and Machine Learning Approaches
by Harsha S. Rangappa, Phyu Phyu Mon, Indika Herath, Giridhar Madras, Chuxia Lin and Challapalli Subrahmanyam
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010464 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) is a primary industrial waste product of iron production, and its improper disposal has been a serious environmental problem. This study aims to modify the GGBS using oxalic acid (GGBS-Ox) for the adsorption of tetracycline (TC) from [...] Read more.
Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) is a primary industrial waste product of iron production, and its improper disposal has been a serious environmental problem. This study aims to modify the GGBS using oxalic acid (GGBS-Ox) for the adsorption of tetracycline (TC) from an aqueous solution. GGBS-Ox was synthesized and characterized via FTIR, XRD SEM, XPS, BET, and DLS. The effects of process parameters, involving initial solution pH, stirring speed, and contact time, are evaluated by utilizing response surface methodology (RSM), artificial neural network (ANN), and random forest (RF) based models. The experimental results indicate that the removal efficiency of TC is significantly affected by the initial pH of the solution. The RSM, ANN, and RF models accurately simulated the experimental data, as indicated by the high coefficient of determination (R2), which was 0.98, 0.95, and 0.98, respectively. Additionally, kinetics, isotherm, and thermodynamic models were evaluated for the adsorption of TC onto GGBS-Ox. The findings of this study demonstrated the utilization of GGBS-Ox as an efficient and sustainable adsorbent for the treatment of TC and can be considered as a potential adsorbent for wastewater treatment. Full article
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21 pages, 2622 KiB  
Article
Examination of Green Productivity in China’s Mining Industry: An In-Depth Exploration of the Role and Impact of Digital Economy
by Chuandi Fang, Yue Yuan, Jiahao Chen, Da Gao and Jing Peng
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010463 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1243
Abstract
Faced with the challenges of increasing demand and expanding emissions, China’s mining industry is at a crucial stage of sustainable development. In the context of the new technological revolution and industrial transformation, researching how the digital economy can promote the growth of green [...] Read more.
Faced with the challenges of increasing demand and expanding emissions, China’s mining industry is at a crucial stage of sustainable development. In the context of the new technological revolution and industrial transformation, researching how the digital economy can promote the growth of green total factor productivity (GTFP) in China’s mining industry, particularly against the backdrop of technological diversity, is vital for achieving sustainable development and carbon neutrality goals. This study utilizes the meta-frontier Malmquist–Luenberger (MML) index to analyze the dynamics of GTFP in China’s mining industry under technological heterogeneity. It thoroughly examines the direct and indirect impacts of the digital economy (DE) on GTFP and delves into the underlying mechanisms of these effects using the spatial Durbin model. The empirical results reveal a significant positive relationship between DE and GTFP, particularly pronounced in the areas of technical efficiency and technological catch-up. Notably, this study identifies the mediating role of industrial structural upgrading in linking DE and GTFP. Additionally, the observed spatial spillover effect of DE on local mining GTFP suggests that the influence of DE extends beyond the immediate regions within the mining sector. Based on these findings, the study presents policy recommendations, emphasizing the need to integrate cutting-edge digital technologies in mining to enhance environmental sustainability. Full article
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25 pages, 6805 KiB  
Article
Energy Efficiency and Thermal Comfort Analysis in a Higher Education Building in Brazil
by Elisabeti F. T. Barbosa, Lucila C. Labaki, Adriana P. A. S. Castro and Felipe S. D. Lopes
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 462; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010462 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1351
Abstract
Thermal comfort is extremely important in architecture, especially in environments with more people spending longer time on studies or intellectual activities. This research describes a case study designed to investigate the energy and thermal performance of university buildings as part of the ANEEL [...] Read more.
Thermal comfort is extremely important in architecture, especially in environments with more people spending longer time on studies or intellectual activities. This research describes a case study designed to investigate the energy and thermal performance of university buildings as part of the ANEEL programme. Because of this importance and the need to save energy in Brazilian public buildings, ANEEL—the Brazilian Energy Electricity Regulatory Agency—launched a national programme focusing on energy efficiency in public universities in 2016. University offices and classrooms sustain high intellectual effort; thus, environmental comfort is critical for maintaining their users’ physical and mental health. This study included a pre-diagnosis of the performance of the envelope, lighting, and air-conditioning systems and a survey about the quality of the environments from the user’s point of view. The Prescriptive Method of the Brazilian Labelling Program (PBE) for Commercial, Service, and Public Buildings (RTQ-C) was used to assess the building performance. Statistical analysis was applied to correlate the quality and thermal preference of the users, with reference to the predicted mean vote and the predicted percentage of dissatisfied (PMV-PPD). The results showed a high rate of thermal discomfort in both study environments, even when using air conditioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Building Energy Efficiency)
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22 pages, 8474 KiB  
Article
Construction Practices of Green Mines in China
by Kun Du, Junjie Xie, Wenqin Xi, Liang Wang and Jian Zhou
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010461 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1379
Abstract
To maintain high-level economic development, protect the ecological environment, and achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, the construction of green mines has become a critical issue in China. In this study, the importance of mineral resources to human society is discussed, and [...] Read more.
To maintain high-level economic development, protect the ecological environment, and achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, the construction of green mines has become a critical issue in China. In this study, the importance of mineral resources to human society is discussed, and the construction experiences and sustainable development directions of green mines are summarized, which can provide valuable references for the global mining industry. The entry and management process in China was introduced to help understand green mines’ construction objectives and tasks. Moreover, based on the successful construction cases of green mines, four typical green mine models are concluded: the green technology mining model, operation modernization mining model, stability mining model, and ecological restoration mining model. In addition, the key construction elements of green mines are concluded, for example, the mining environment, mining methods, comprehensive utilization of resources, energy conservation, emission reduction, scientific and technological innovation and intelligence, and enterprise-land stability, which provided the directions and guidance for green mine construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Green Mining)
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20 pages, 317 KiB  
Review
A Drivers Framework of Organizational SDG Engagement
by Björn Mestdagh, Luc Van Liedekerke and Olivier Sempiga
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010460 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1807
Abstract
This paper constitutes a theoretical reflection on organizational engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite the widespread adoption of such engagements, a precise definition and positioning of organizational SDG engagement are lacking in the literature. This gap also extends to the underlying [...] Read more.
This paper constitutes a theoretical reflection on organizational engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite the widespread adoption of such engagements, a precise definition and positioning of organizational SDG engagement are lacking in the literature. This gap also extends to the underlying motivations driving organizations to actively engage with the SDGs. To address these, this study aims to achieve two key objectives. Firstly, it seeks to establish a foundational understanding by defining and delineating the concept of organizational SDG engagement, recognizing its distinctiveness from Corporate Sustainability (CS) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Secondly, leveraging existing literature on CS and CSR, we propose a comprehensive driver framework for organizational SDG engagement. This framework underscores morality, efficiency, and legitimacy as primary drivers. The overarching goal of this reflective paper is, therefore, to enhance the theoretical comprehension of organizational SDG engagement by applying and integrating existing literature into the conceptual framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility)
20 pages, 589 KiB  
Article
Progressing from Science Communication to Engagement: Community Voices on Water Quality and Access in Makhanda
by Linda Khumalo, Martin Mickelsson, Ronen Fogel, Nhamo Mutingwende, Lwazikazi Madikiza and Janice Limson
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010459 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1145
Abstract
The EU’s Responsible Research and Innovation framework advocates for engagement between communities and scientists, creating opportunities for scientific research and processes to be informed and shaped by community voices. To date, few examples in the literature explore this in practice. Hence, key questions [...] Read more.
The EU’s Responsible Research and Innovation framework advocates for engagement between communities and scientists, creating opportunities for scientific research and processes to be informed and shaped by community voices. To date, few examples in the literature explore this in practice. Hence, key questions remain as to the role that communities play in this framework and the nature of and extent to which community voices and localised perspectives inform research and innovation. This paper explores how a collaborative community engagement process, facilitated at the outset, could meaningfully inform the establishment of a water quality testing facility. In Makhanda, a water-scarce region of South Africa, focus group discussions as well as site visits/observations integrated community and researcher knowledges to shape the community-engaged water testing facility. This study details how the daily assessment of water by the community provided valuable insights to the researchers on the nature and extent of factors affecting water quality and informed the sites and timing of water testing in subsequent scientific measurements of the same. Furthermore, it opened pathways to sustained, longer-term engagement between scientists and communities around water quality, highlighting the need for a multi-stakeholder focus to support community agency around access to safe water. Full article
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10 pages, 234 KiB  
Article
Feasibility of Meat Loss and Waste Estimates Based on Meat Consumption and Availability
by Paolo C. Colombani and Thomas A. Brunner
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 458; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010458 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 939
Abstract
Meat loss and waste are estimated at each stage along the food chain, but the methods used are complex, and the data needed are often fragmented. We, therefore, evaluated the feasibility of estimating meat loss and waste using a simpler method comparing meat [...] Read more.
Meat loss and waste are estimated at each stage along the food chain, but the methods used are complex, and the data needed are often fragmented. We, therefore, evaluated the feasibility of estimating meat loss and waste using a simpler method comparing meat availability and consumption, using Swiss meat consumption according to a national nutrition survey and Swiss meat availability according to food balance sheets. As availability is reported at the fresh meat level and consumption as consumed, items of the latter were converted to fresh meat equivalents before comparing consumption with availability. Consumed unprocessed meat was directly converted to fresh meat equivalents and consumed meat products after having identified their meat ingredients. Meat availability and meat consumption as consumed and as fresh meat equivalent were 138.4 g/d, 105.5 g/d, and 112.1 g/d, respectively. The resulting total meat loss and waste was 19% and varied from −36% to 38% for the different meat types. Estimating meat loss and waste based on meat availability and consumption derived from a national nutrition survey yielded results varying to such an extent that the evaluated method to estimate meat loss and waste cannot be recommended. Full article
18 pages, 1598 KiB  
Article
The Comet Assay as a Sustainable Method for Evaluating the Genotoxicity Caused by the Soluble Fraction Derived from Sewage Sludge on Diverse Cell Types, Including Lymphocytes, Coelomocytes and Allium cepa L. Cells
by Monica Adriana Costea, Cristina Adriana Rosan, Vasile Laslo, Eliza Agud, Cornelia Purcarea and Simona Ioana Vicas
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010457 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1223
Abstract
With the expansion of urban areas, the amount of sludge produced by sewage treatment plants is increasing, raising big problems regarding the reintroduction of this sludge into nature in order to fully solve the wastewater problem. The application of sludge to agricultural surfaces [...] Read more.
With the expansion of urban areas, the amount of sludge produced by sewage treatment plants is increasing, raising big problems regarding the reintroduction of this sludge into nature in order to fully solve the wastewater problem. The application of sludge to agricultural surfaces or degraded land is a controversial solution since, despite the well-known benefits, sludge can, in certain cases, represent a real threat to both human health and the environment, with long-term harmful effects. The present study evaluates the potential genotoxicity of sludge using the Comet Test and three cellular bioindicators (lymphocytes, coelomocytes, and Allium cepa L.) for its quantification. To perform the tests, the soluble fraction of the sludge was used at concentrations of 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%, as well as a negative control (H2O) and a positive control (H2O2). The Comet test indicated an increase in DNA damage among cells exposed for 4 h in the following order: coelomocytes, lymphocytes, and Allium cepa L. cells. Our results indicate that Allium cepa L. nuclei are more sensitive, with genotoxic effects being evident at concentrations as low as 25%. In coelomocytes, we recorded nuclear damage starting at a concentration of 75%. These results indicate the necessity of using multiple genotoxicity tests, combined in a test battery, to achieve a greater level of relevance. The concentration of the soluble fraction of the sludge has an inverse relationship with the auxin content in leaves and roots, suggesting varying levels of stress. The results of this study can contribute to the creation of a genotoxic profile of sewage sludge, facilitating decisions related to reducing its negative impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sustainability Research from the University of Oradea)
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33 pages, 5473 KiB  
Article
A Novel Approach to Determine Multi-Tiered Nearly Zero-Energy Performance Benchmarks Using Probabilistic Reference Buildings and Risk Analysis Approaches
by Damien Gatt, Charles Yousif, Maurizio Cellura, Francesco Guarino, Kenneth Scerri and Ilenia Tinnirello
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 456; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010456 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1791
Abstract
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) mandates European Union Member States (MS) to conduct cost-optimal studies using the national calculation methodology (NCM), typically through non-calibrated asset-rating software. Nearly zero-energy building (NZEB) levels must be derived for each chosen Reference Building (RB), which [...] Read more.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) mandates European Union Member States (MS) to conduct cost-optimal studies using the national calculation methodology (NCM), typically through non-calibrated asset-rating software. Nearly zero-energy building (NZEB) levels must be derived for each chosen Reference Building (RB), which are generally defined using deterministic parameters. Previous research proposed an innovative cost-optimal method that replaces ‘non-calibrated deterministic RBs’ with ‘probabilistically Bayesian calibrated reference building (RB)’ to better handle building stock uncertainties and diversities when deriving benchmarks. This paper aims to develop a framework to address two research gaps necessary for the successful application of the innovative cost optimal method: (1) providing objective criteria for defining NZEB benchmarks and (2) propagating uncertainties and financial risk for each defined benchmark. A robust approach for defining NZEB benchmarks according to four different ambition levels (low, medium, high, and highest) was developed by objectively considering distinct points from multiple cost-optimal plots employing different financial perspectives. Risk analysis is then performed for each defined benchmark by propagating risk from the posterior calibration parameter distributions to visualize and statistically quantify the financial risk, including robust risk, that the private investor could face for reaching each derived benchmark ambition level. The innovative cost-optimal methodology that incorporates the developed framework was applied to a hotel RB case study. The results showed that the developed framework is capable of deriving distinct benchmarks and quantitatively uncovering the full financial risk levels for the four different renovation ambition levels. The current cost-optimal method was also performed for the hotel case study with the RB defined determinitically and using the non-calibrated NCM software, SBEM-mt v4.2c. It was found that the financial feasibility and energy-saving results per benchmark are significantly more realistic and transparent for the proposed innovative cost-optimal method including a better match between the simulated and metered energy consumption with a difference of less than 1% in annual performance. Thus, the performance gap between calculated and actual energy performance that is synonymous with the EPBD methodology, as reported in the literature, is bridged. The case study also showed the importance of the risk analysis. Performing the cost-optimal analysis for a Bayesian calibrated RB using the mean value of the posterior calibrated parameter distributions without propagating uncertainty produced highly optimistic results that obscured the real financial risk for achieving the higher ambition levels of the NZEB benchmarks. Consequently, the developed framework demonstrated a time-bound tightening approach to achieve higher energy performance ambitions, improve risk transparency to private investors, and facilitate more targeted policies towards a net zero-carbon status. Thus, the proposed method considering parameter uncertainty and calibrated RBs is instrumental for devising robust policy measures for the EPBD, to achieve a realistic and long-lasting sustainable energy goal for European buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sustainability Research at the University of Malta)
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34 pages, 1710 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Bioenergy Potential from Biomass Waste to Improve Access to Clean Energy for Cooking in Mali
by Iván Segura-Rodríguez and Ramchandra Bhandari
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 455; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010455 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
A lack of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in Mali is causing negative health and welfare impacts on the population. There is a need to transition to cleaner cooking systems, and the production of biofuels is one promising solution. In order [...] Read more.
A lack of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in Mali is causing negative health and welfare impacts on the population. There is a need to transition to cleaner cooking systems, and the production of biofuels is one promising solution. In order to successfully use biofuels in Malian households, it is necessary to calculate the sustainable bioenergy potential of the country. The aim of this study, therefore, was to assess this potential to determine if it can meet the cooking energy demand. Statistical data were used to estimate the bioenergy potential from three different biomass resources: crop residues, livestock waste, and municipal solid waste (MSW). Surveys in urban and rural areas in Mali were performed to assess cooking fuel consumption in the residential sector. Bioenergy potential and cooking energy demand were compared regionally to find out if biomass is a feasible substitute for traditional cooking fuels in Mali. It was shown that while there is high biogas potential in most of the regions, urban Bamako has a lack of biomass resources to cover the demand. Therefore, other clean alternatives like electric cooking should be considered for urban areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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20 pages, 5953 KiB  
Article
Hybrid Intelligence for Marine Biodiversity: Integrating Citizen Science with AI for Enhanced Intertidal Conservation Efforts at Cape Santiago, Taiwan
by Vincent Y. Chen, Day-Jye Lu and Yu-San Han
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 454; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010454 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1389
Abstract
Marine biodiversity underpins the formation of marine protected areas (MPAs), necessitating detailed surveys to account for the dynamic temporal and spatial distribution of species influenced by tidal patterns and microhabitats. The reef rock intertidal zones adjacent to urban centers, such as Taiwan’s Cape [...] Read more.
Marine biodiversity underpins the formation of marine protected areas (MPAs), necessitating detailed surveys to account for the dynamic temporal and spatial distribution of species influenced by tidal patterns and microhabitats. The reef rock intertidal zones adjacent to urban centers, such as Taiwan’s Cape Santiago, exhibit significant biodiversity, yet they are increasingly threatened by tourism-related activities. This study introduces an artificial intelligence (AI)-empowered citizen science (CS) approach within the local community to address these challenges. By integrating CS with AI, we establish a hybrid intelligence (HI) system that conducts in situ biological surveys and educational programs focused on reef ecological conservation. This initiative not only facilitates the collective gathering and AI-assisted analysis of critical data but also uses machine-learning outputs to gauge data quality, thus informing subsequent data collection and refinement strategies. The resulting collectivity and iterative enhancement foster a mutual and continuous HI learning environment. Our HI model proves instrumental in fostering community engagement and public involvement in CS endeavors, cultivating the skills necessary for documenting rocky intertidal biodiversity shifts. These efforts are pivotal for informing the design and governance of future MPAs, ensuring their efficacy and sustainability in marine conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management and Conservation of the Oceans)
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39 pages, 14986 KiB  
Article
An Approach to Advance Circular Practices in the Maritime Industry through a Database as a Bridging Solution
by Dogancan Okumus, Sefer A. Gunbeyaz, Rafet E. Kurt and Osman Turan
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010453 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1422
Abstract
The concept of maritime circularity has gained increasing attention to address challenges arising from the net-zero targets of the maritime industry. The circular economy provides potential solutions to address these challenges through reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling practices. However, the industry faces complex challenges, [...] Read more.
The concept of maritime circularity has gained increasing attention to address challenges arising from the net-zero targets of the maritime industry. The circular economy provides potential solutions to address these challenges through reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling practices. However, the industry faces complex challenges, including inefficient reverse supply chains, a lack of awareness about circular economy principles, standardisation issues, and the need for digital infrastructure to provide vital information in the sector. These challenges prevent the implementation of circularity practices, as access to crucial data throughout the vessel’s life cycle is obstructed. This novel research aims to create a robust first-of-its-kind database solution specifically designed to support the industry’s shift towards circularity. The database will facilitate fast and transparent information flow between the stakeholders, providing foundations for asset tracking and a robust reverse supply chain. A case study was conducted to show that a database could help extract higher financial value from end-of-life ships by over 80%. The ageing fleet increases the urgency of utilising such a database, which could be a pivotal strategy for a sustainable and circular industry. This digital solution offers significant benefits to all industry stakeholders and allows holistic resource management, influencing maritime operations’ sustainability, resilience, and profitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ship Recycling Industry and Sustainable Development)
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12 pages, 1857 KiB  
Article
Transforming Diabetes Supplies in the Prison System: An Example of Environmental Social Innovation
by Pedro Henrique Macedo Moura, Deise Maria Rego Rodrigues Silva, Eloia Emanuelly Dias Silva, Jessiane Bispo de Souza, Marina dos Santos Barreto, Ronaldy Santana Santos, Pamela Chaves de Jesus, Leticia Milena Machado dos Santos, Lucas Alves da Mota Santana, Adriana Gibara Guimarães and Lysandro Pinto Borges
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010452 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1093
Abstract
Background: The disposal of plastic material has been gaining negative attention due to its impact on the environment and people’s health. Insulin pens used by people living with diabetes are disposed of through landfills or incineration, negatively impacting the environment and generating costs [...] Read more.
Background: The disposal of plastic material has been gaining negative attention due to its impact on the environment and people’s health. Insulin pens used by people living with diabetes are disposed of through landfills or incineration, negatively impacting the environment and generating costs for the state. Methods: In an attempt to reduce the disposal of plastic in the environment and reduce disposal costs, the “Insulinadiamor” project was created, which uses handicrafts as a means of re-socializing women deprived of their liberty. In this project, female inmates in the state of Sergipe turn insulin pens into ballpoint pens. Results: During the year 2022, 2000 insulin pens were transformed into ballpoint pens. We estimate a loss of around USD 37,150.28 for the state due to the inappropriate use of medicines, which was reflected in the return of complete insulins. In addition, by avoiding landfill or incineration of the plastic content collected, we contributed to an estimated saving of almost USD 603.91 for the state and more than 80 kg of CO2-equivalent emissions. Conclusions: This project brings a sustainable and transformative approach involving financial savings, rehabilitation of inmates, and contribution to the environment. It also raises the importance of creating more sustainable initiatives to reduce plastic waste in the health sector and other areas. Full article
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19 pages, 3971 KiB  
Article
The Potential Impact of Changes in Soil and Climate Conditions on Development of the Herb Layer Vegetation of Public Parks in Krakow (Southern Poland)
by Łukasz Moszkowicz, Izabela Krzeptowska-Moszkowicz, Karolina Porada and Miłosz Zieliński
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 451; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010451 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1341
Abstract
Today, urban greenery is at the center of attention, especially in the context of climate change. Shaped in large part by natural factors, the herb layer of public parks is a part of urban greenery that is the most sensitive to climate and [...] Read more.
Today, urban greenery is at the center of attention, especially in the context of climate change. Shaped in large part by natural factors, the herb layer of public parks is a part of urban greenery that is the most sensitive to climate and soil condition changes. In this paper, we present a study intended to answer how resilient is the species composition and herb layer structure against the soil and climate condition changes in parks. To this end, we analyzed Ellenberg and Zarzycki’s ecological index numbers for species recorded in different groups in terms of historical-geographical, life forms, prevalence within the flora of Poland, and relationships with different vegetation types (phytoassociation classes) in comparison to the conditions present in parks. It was found that a large part of various species groups showed an optima and ecological tolerance spectra that went beyond the park conditions, indicating that at least some park vegetation can be expected to show resilience to changing conditions. However, changes in temperature and humidity will alter the composition and structure of the park herb layer. The direction of changes in climate and soil conditions can be decisive for herb layer transformation directions. With rising temperatures, humidity can be crucial. Poor soil moisture conditions will promote an increased share of foreign, synanthropic species, while local natural and semi-natural species will disappear. When climate change that leads to a decrease in temperatures is concerned, it is temperature and not humidity that will be the key factor in the transformation of park herb layer species compositions. The herb layer of Krakow’s parks will have the least resilience to changes in conditions within local non-synanthropic species, rare species and geophytes and to some extent also forest and meadow species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Cultural Landscapes—Methods, Applications and Patterns)
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16 pages, 5073 KiB  
Article
Comprehensive Safety Index for Road Safety Management System
by Ki-Han Song, Kyung Hyun Kim, Solsaem Choi, Sabeur Elkosantini, Seongkwan Mark Lee and Wonho Suh
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010450 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1381
Abstract
A safety-index-based road safety management system (RSMS) is a tool to help identify locations where safety intervention is needed. To date, various safety indices have been developed and utilized, but it is rare to consider the plan–do–check–act structure in an RSMS when studying [...] Read more.
A safety-index-based road safety management system (RSMS) is a tool to help identify locations where safety intervention is needed. To date, various safety indices have been developed and utilized, but it is rare to consider the plan–do–check–act structure in an RSMS when studying the decision-making methodology. In this study, 36 indicators and a system of evaluation indicators were selected based on the major classifications of performance, effect, and improvement. Performance was categorized by safety system components and effect was reflected in the safety status, such as the number of injuries. The indicators were validated, and a classification methodology for safety groups was proposed through cluster analysis. It was found that there was no correlation between the indicators and the population, budget, or road area by administrative district. It was also found that no particular indicators had a significant impact on the overall result in the major category or the overall index. It was determined that the developed indicators were suitable for administrative district-specific safety monitoring. It is expected that these indicators will be continuously utilized and enhanced in the national evaluation of road traffic safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers on Sustainability from IMETI 2022)
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32 pages, 3379 KiB  
Review
Biosurfactants: Promising Biomolecules for Agricultural Applications
by Maria da Glória C. Silva, Anderson O. Medeiros, Attilio Converti, Fabiola Carolina G. Almeida and Leonie A. Sarubbo
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 449; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010449 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2455
Abstract
Population growth and the need for increased agricultural productivity pose a global problem. Therefore, the development of green compounds to ensure agricultural sustainability is an urgent necessity. Surfactant compounds hold significant commercial importance due to their diverse industrial uses. However, the synthetic origin [...] Read more.
Population growth and the need for increased agricultural productivity pose a global problem. Therefore, the development of green compounds to ensure agricultural sustainability is an urgent necessity. Surfactant compounds hold significant commercial importance due to their diverse industrial uses. However, the synthetic origin of these agents limits their commercial application due to their toxicity. As a result, extensive research has focused on the production of microbial-originated green surfactants, known as biosurfactants, over the past fifteen years. These biomolecules not only offer a green alternative for agriculture but also exhibit reduced toxicity and excellent stability under specific environmental conditions. Biosurfactants can lower surface tension more effectively than synthetic surfactants. With properties such as detergency and foam formation, biosurfactants are suitable for various agricultural applications, particularly in pesticide and agrochemical formulations. They can function as biopesticides to manage pests, pathogens, phytopathogenic fungi, and weeds due to their antimicrobial activity. Moreover, plants can benefit from biosurfactant molecules and microorganisms as nutrients. They can also aid efficiently in the distribution of micronutrients and metals in the soil. They also stimulate plant immunity and are utilized for soil hydrophilization to ensure proper moisture levels and uniform fertilizer distribution. This review aims to provide valuable insights into the role and properties of biosurfactants as agricultural adjuvants, fostering the development of sustainable formulations to replace the chemical surfactants used in pesticides. For this purpose, the general aspects of global agricultural activity are initially described, followed by a discussion of pesticides, including herbicides, fungicides, and insecticide products. Next, the properties of chemical surfactants are discussed and the use of green surfactants, with emphasis on microbial biosurfactants, is demonstrated. The application of biosurfactants in the agricultural industry and trends are addressed and prospects for the application of these agents are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Utilization of Biomass Resources and Green Chemical Products)
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14 pages, 1167 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Incinerator Performance and Policy Framework for Effective Waste Management and Energy Recovery: A Case Study of South Korea
by Younghyun Kwon, Suyoung Lee, Jisu Bae, Sein Park, Heesung Moon, Taewoo Lee, Kyuyeon Kim, Jungu Kang and Taewan Jeon
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010448 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1759
Abstract
Waste incineration is a crucial component of waste management as it is the final stage of circular utilization and the initial phase of disposal. Effective waste management prioritizes energy recovery from waste and substantial waste volume reduction while committing to minimizing air pollutant [...] Read more.
Waste incineration is a crucial component of waste management as it is the final stage of circular utilization and the initial phase of disposal. Effective waste management prioritizes energy recovery from waste and substantial waste volume reduction while committing to minimizing air pollutant emissions, particularly nitrogen oxides (NOx). This study involves an in-depth analysis of operational data from 44 incineration facilities in South Korea spanning 5 years, supplemented by empirical measurements from 14 sites. This study aimed to assess three key aspects of these incineration facilities: (1) waste volume reduction characteristics, (2) energy recovery capabilities, and (3) NOx emission reduction performance. We examined how these elements interact within the policy framework governing incinerator management in South Korea. Quantitatively, incinerating 100 tons of municipal waste resulted in a gain of 338.7 m3 in landfill capacity and recovery of 637.5 GJ of energy in the form of heat or electricity. Notably, South Korean incineration facilities significantly extend the lifespan of landfill sites, aligning closely with the objectives of the South Korean Ministry of Environment’s “No More Direct Landfilling of Household Waste Policy”. This positive outcome is further reinforced by the “Incineration Tax Reduction Policy”, which incentivizes active efforts toward energy recovery during incineration. Our study provides decision-makers with valuable insights for achieving a harmonious equilibrium between environmental sustainability and resource utilization, thereby contributing to the continuous improvement of policies aimed at South Korea’s vision of achieving a circular economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Waste Management in the Context of Circular Economy)
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18 pages, 8915 KiB  
Article
Effects of Paleosol on the Collapsibility of Loess Sites under Immersion Test Conditions
by Lin Li, Jiading Wang, Qi Gu and Dengfei Zhang
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010447 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 743
Abstract
The existence of multiple layers of red paleosol within loess strata presents a unique challenge due to its high hardness, which resists settlement deformation upon exposure to water. This attribute significantly influences the subsidence measurements of the loess strata. Despite this, the current [...] Read more.
The existence of multiple layers of red paleosol within loess strata presents a unique challenge due to its high hardness, which resists settlement deformation upon exposure to water. This attribute significantly influences the subsidence measurements of the loess strata. Despite this, the current literature lacks reports on the control effect of paleosol on collapsibility, leading to a deficiency in the theoretical basis for scientifically selecting collapsibility in these strata. This paper seeks to bridge this gap by examining the differences in self-weight collapsibility under various conditions, both indoor and outdoor, across different paleosol layers and strata. The analysis is grounded on statistical results derived from immersion tests conducted in the Loess Plateau. Moreover, the research zeroes in on two test sites in Xi’an, conducting extensive immersion tests and considering measurements such as water diffusion, changes in water content, soil pressure, and cumulative collapsibility under different test conditions. The study probes into the influence of paleosol layers on water infiltration and their role in controlling total weight collapse. The final results suggest that the presence of a paleosol layer inhibits collapsibility transfer to the lower layer and restricts water infiltration, thereby reducing total collapsibility. Discrepancies between measured and calculated collapsibility values showed a positive correlation with the number of paleosol layers. This research offers valuable insights into the collapsibility mechanism of paleosol-loess strata. Full article
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17 pages, 912 KiB  
Review
Façade Greening for Healthy Urban Air: An Umbrella Review on Particulate Matter Reduction, Challenges, and Future Directions
by Philipp Spörl, Simone Trimmel, Daniela Haluza, Susan Sauerbrey, Johanna Irrgeher, Thomas Prohaska and Ulrike Pitha
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010446 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1168
Abstract
Particulate matter (PM) exposure in urban areas is a continuous threat to human health and requires sustainable solutions for effective reduction. The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive overview of façade greening and its effects on PM and to identify [...] Read more.
Particulate matter (PM) exposure in urban areas is a continuous threat to human health and requires sustainable solutions for effective reduction. The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive overview of façade greening and its effects on PM and to identify knowledge gaps. We systematically screened, analyzed, and re-evaluated previous reviews according to the criteria established for an umbrella review. As a result, this study covers and discusses common measurement methods, influencing factors, the effectiveness of façade greening, leaf characteristics, and plant species from different subtopics. The main findings are that inconsistent measurement methods limit the comparability of the analyzed reviews, and different climatic conditions affecting the use of plant species lead to different international effects. Despite the existing studies reporting a positive effect on the reduction of PM, comparability is difficult due to methodological differences and external influences. Given the complexity, interdisciplinary collaboration with experts is essential to increase the effectiveness of façade greening for PM accumulation for healthy urban air. We suggest that this umbrella review provides a foundation for future research and practical implementations, such as a suitable plant selection or façade design, by integrating the results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
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23 pages, 315 KiB  
Article
The Implementation of a Sustainable Online Course for the Development of Digital Citizenship Skills in Higher Education
by Erkan Bal and Umut Akcil
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010445 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1309
Abstract
This study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a digital citizenship curriculum developed using online teaching for undergraduate students. For this purpose, answers were sought to the following general research questions: “How are students performing their digital citizenship skills?”, “What is [...] Read more.
This study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a digital citizenship curriculum developed using online teaching for undergraduate students. For this purpose, answers were sought to the following general research questions: “How are students performing their digital citizenship skills?”, “What is the efficiency level of the developed digital citizenship curriculum?”, “What are the students’ self-evaluations during the implementation process of the developed digital citizenship curriculum?” and “What are student opinions about the implemented digital citizenship course?”. A “parallel-simultaneous design”, one of the mixed research methods, was used in this research. The content of the curriculum was determined within the framework of a needs analysis consisting of university students and field experts, and a document review. A quasi-experimental design method was used to implement the programme. A total of 39 teacher candidates, registered in the spring semester of the 2022 academic year, participated in the experimental process. A Moodle learning management system was used as the teaching environment. Participants’ digital citizenship behaviours and attitude levels were measured before and after the experimental application. It was observed that there was a significant (positive) difference between the pre-test and post-test average scores in favour of the post-test scores, and the effect value of this difference was high. It turned out that the teacher candidates’ opinions on the effectiveness of the online digital citizenship programme were positive. It is understood that the digital citizenship teaching curriculum developed for higher education can be used sustainably for similar university student groups as in this study. However, it is anticipated that the developed programme can be updated along with technological evolutions. Full article
12 pages, 2577 KiB  
Article
Spatial Distribution of Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Content in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Area and Their Responses to Land-Use Types
by Bo Xu, Yuefen Li and Yi Liu
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010444 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 993
Abstract
Understanding the spatial distribution of soil properties is essential for comprehending soil fertility, predicting ecosystem productivity, enhancing environmental quality, promoting sustainable agriculture, and addressing global climate change. This study focuses on investigating the spatial distribution and influencing factors of soil carbon (C) and [...] Read more.
Understanding the spatial distribution of soil properties is essential for comprehending soil fertility, predicting ecosystem productivity, enhancing environmental quality, promoting sustainable agriculture, and addressing global climate change. This study focuses on investigating the spatial distribution and influencing factors of soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in the Danjiangkou Reservoir area, a vital water source for the South-to-North Water Transfer Project. Utilizing both geostatistical and traditional statistical methods, this research explores the impact of various land-use types—such as orchards, drylands, paddy fields, and Hydro-Fluctuation Belts (HF belts)—on soil C and N content. The findings reveal predominantly low levels of soil organic carbon (SOC) (ranging from 2.95 to 21.50 g·kg−1), total nitrogen (TN) (ranging from 0.27 to 2.44 g·kg−1), and available nitrogen (AN) (ranging from 18.20 to 170.45 mg·kg−1), mostly falling into deficient categories. Notably, spatial variability is observed, especially in agriculturally developed regions, leading to areas of enrichment. Paddy fields and HF belts are identified as influential contributors to increased SOC and nitrogen content compared to orchards and drylands. Correlation and stepwise regression analyses unveil intricate interactions among SOC, TN, AN, and environmental factors, underscoring the necessity for a holistic approach to soil management. This study emphasizes the critical role of adopting rational land-use types and sustainable agricultural practices for effective soil management in the Danjiangkou Reservoir area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue BRICS Soil Management for Sustainable Agriculture)
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30 pages, 30850 KiB  
Article
The Contribution of Tourism to Sustainable Rural Development in Peripheral Mining Spaces: The Riotinto Mining Basin (Andalusia, Spain)
by María Bahamonde-Rodríguez, Giedrė Šadeikaitė and Francisco Javier García-Delgado
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010443 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1377
Abstract
Since the middle of the 20th century, the crisis of industrial mining activities in Western Europe has caused the cessation of mining, triggering a structural crisis. The necessity to look for alternatives has been widely discussed; among these alternatives, tourist activities based on [...] Read more.
Since the middle of the 20th century, the crisis of industrial mining activities in Western Europe has caused the cessation of mining, triggering a structural crisis. The necessity to look for alternatives has been widely discussed; among these alternatives, tourist activities based on mining heritage stand out. However, it is essential to address the study of those unattractive peripheral spaces in which new activities encounter obstacles to their development and face post-industrial and rural crises. The Riotinto Mining Basin (Huelva, Andalusia) represents an example of such rural spaces; it has an enormous cultural heritage, and the mine has recently been reactivated. The objective of this research is to analyze the contribution of mining tourism to sustainable rural development. The applied methodology was mixed and was based on interviews and secondary data. The results are (a) the achievement of the tourism value of the mining heritage; (b) the difficulties tourism faces in overcoming its peripheral condition; (c) the relative contribution of tourism to the improvement of the territorial image; (d) the lack of coordination among stakeholders; and (e) the limited contribution of tourism to sustainable rural development and its movement to a secondary economic role after the reopening of the mine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Rural Development through Tourism, Events, and Recreation)
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20 pages, 3045 KiB  
Article
Blockchain Architectures for the Digital Economy: Trends and Opportunities
by Magda Pineda, Daladier Jabba and Wilson Nieto-Bernal
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 442; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010442 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3402
Abstract
The digital economy, driven by information and communication technologies (ICT), has profoundly transformed in recent decades. The digitalization of society has given rise to an economic environment in which information, connectivity, and innovation play fundamental roles. In this context, a technology that has [...] Read more.
The digital economy, driven by information and communication technologies (ICT), has profoundly transformed in recent decades. The digitalization of society has given rise to an economic environment in which information, connectivity, and innovation play fundamental roles. In this context, a technology that has emerged as a fundamental pillar of the digital economy is the chain of blocks, commonly known as blockchain. Blockchain is a technology that has revolutionized the way online data and transactions are managed and shared. Through its ability to create secure, transparent, and decentralized ledgers, blockchain has paved the way for the digital economy, facilitating trust in digital transactions and enabling various applications ranging from cryptocurrencies to supply chain management and intellectual property. This study will delve into blockchain and its influence on the digital economy. It will explore how this technology has reshaped how companies interact, how consumers access services, and how new business models are developed in a constantly evolving digital environment. Additionally, the challenges and opportunities that blockchain presents in the context of the digital economy will be analyzed, and how it is helping to shape the future of business and society in general. As the exploration of blockchain and its impact on the digital economy progresses, it becomes evident how these two forces converge, generating a promising digital landscape full of significant opportunities and transformations. This phenomenon is consistently supported by a growing body of research and analysis, which underlines the growing influence of blockchain on the global economy. The dynamic interplay between these two spheres, blockchain and the digital economy, is constantly evolving and offers an exciting glimpse into the future regarding innovation and disruption across a wide range of sectors. As a result, significant opportunities are looming for those seeking to understand and capitalize on these emerging trends. Throughout this study, the current trends and most intriguing perspectives that shape this landscape will be broken down, offering a deeper insight into how blockchain and the digital economy are shaping an extraordinary digital future. Full article
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19 pages, 6449 KiB  
Article
Statistical Analysis of Climate Trends and Impacts on Groundwater Sustainability in the Lower Indus Basin
by Waqas Ahmed, Suhail Ahmed, Jehangir F. Punthakey, Ghulam Hussain Dars, Muhammad Shafqat Ejaz, Abdul Latif Qureshi and Michael Mitchell
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010441 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1343
Abstract
Agricultural intensification is increasing global demand for water, with groundwater especially susceptible given its year-round reliability. Climate change impacts on groundwater recharge exacerbate uncertainties for future access and use, especially for large aquifers across alluvial plains such as the Indus Basin of Pakistan. [...] Read more.
Agricultural intensification is increasing global demand for water, with groundwater especially susceptible given its year-round reliability. Climate change impacts on groundwater recharge exacerbate uncertainties for future access and use, especially for large aquifers across alluvial plains such as the Indus Basin of Pakistan. To generate better understanding of climate change impacts on groundwater balances in such contexts, we used MODFLOW 2005 to quantify the groundwater budget of the Northern Rohri Canal Command Area under RCP 4.5 and 8.5 climatic scenarios, while also taking climatic regionalisation into account. Under a baseline scenario, total annual pumping in the northern Rohri command was estimated to be 3.619 billion cubic metres (BCM), and the total net loss in storage over the simulation period from October 2010 to April 2014 was estimated at 1.244 BCM per year. By 2047, net decline in storage is projected to more than double to 2.185 per year under RCP 4.5 scenario and 2.214 under RCP 8.5. Our estimates suggest that a sustainable yield across the command area should be managed at approximately 3 ± 0.3 BCM per year to ensure sufficient adaptive reserves of groundwater for access during times of drought and inadequate surface supply, while also reducing waterlogging impacts from high watertables. This first-time estimate of sustainable yield provides irrigation system managers with an overall guide from which divisional-scale measures to achieve the goal can be identified through stakeholder engagement. Full article
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23 pages, 10491 KiB  
Article
Engineering and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Sustainable Zeolite-Based Geopolymer Incorporating Blast Furnace Slag
by Samar Amari, Mariam Darestani, Graeme J. Millar, Bijan Samali and Ekaterina Strounina
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 440; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010440 - 4 Jan 2024
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2061
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the preparation of zeolite-based geopolymer composites incorporating blast furnace slag at various temperatures and varying amounts of blast furnace slag as potential sustainable building and construction materials. The primary objectives were to use mining waste streams for geopolymer [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the preparation of zeolite-based geopolymer composites incorporating blast furnace slag at various temperatures and varying amounts of blast furnace slag as potential sustainable building and construction materials. The primary objectives were to use mining waste streams for geopolymer production and assess the mechanical behavior of these hybrid geopolymers, along with performing a life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare their environmental impact with conventional concrete. It was observed that the hybrid geopolymers attained a maximum mechanical strength of 40 MPa. Remarkably, substituting just 20% of the material with blast furnace slag resulted in a 92% improvement in compressive strength. To assess environmental impacts, a cradle-to-gate LCA was performed on different geopolymer mix designs, focusing particularly on the global warming potential (GWP). The results indicated that geopolymer concrete generated a maximum of 240 kg CO2-e/m3, which was 40% lower than the emissions from ordinary cement, highlighting the environmental advantages of geopolymer materials. Further, X-ray diffraction was used to determine the mineral composition of both raw and developed composites. Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) was applied to study the molecular structure changes upon incorporating blast furnace slag. The initial setting time and shrinkage of the geopolymers were also investigated. Morphological characteristics were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Thermal analyses confirmed the stability of the geopolymers up to 800 °C. Geopolymer composites with high thermal stability can be used in construction materials that require fire resistance. This study not only enhances the understanding of geopolymer composite properties but also confirms the substantial environmental advantages of utilizing geopolymerization in sustainable construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Construction Materials for Safe and Sustainable Built Structures)
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